April 2008: Education experts consider the paper pattern and syllabus as being linked
closely to the scheme of studies scheduled for an academic session. Teachers
plan their lessons according to the syllabus circulated among the students at
the beginning of an academic session so that they can set a timetable well in
advance in order to prepare themselves for their semester and annual
But recently the Intermediate and Secondary Education
(BISE) boards in Peshawar, Mardan, Abbotabad, Kohat and Bannu baffled the
students appearing from there in Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher
Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams by setting and resetting the course not just
once or twice, but three times during the academic sessions of 2006 and
Changes in the content matter of various subjects also caused great
confusion among students and teachers. The new pattern of question papers was
said to be effective only for Part-I of the intermediate annual examination in
2007 and for Part-II from 2008 and onwards.
Question papers in
Physics-II, Chemistry-II, Biology-II and Mathematics-II in the Inter (A) exam
2008 (Part-II) are being set according to the attached model papers of
Physics-I, Chemistry-I, Biology-I and Mathematics-I.
The question papers
in Humanities were set according to the general format of papers carrying 50
marks, 75 marks, 85 marks and 100 marks.
The optional part in section 'B'
and 'C' was reduced from 25 per cent to 33 per cent which is effective from
Intermediate annual examination 2008 Part-I and Part-II, and onwards. According
to the breakup, section 'A' carries 20 per cent, section 'B' 50 per cent while
section 'C' has been awarded 30 per cent marks.
Similarly, a notification
was issued by the director of Academics and Regularity Authority (ARA) of BISE
on February 1, 2008, regarding changes in the question papers of ninth and 10th
classes. It said that the General Science question paper for class nine would be
set from chapter-I to chapter-V of the General Science book printed by the NWFP
Textbook Board while the class 10 question paper (composite) would be set from
chapter-I to chapter-XI of the said book for the SSC annual examination 2008,
2009, and onwards.
The class 10 question paper would be set from
chapter-VI to chapter-XI. Normally, the new academic session in NWFP starts in
September and ends in March with the pre-board examinations, conducted by the
home institutions after which the students are free to do revisions at
The said notification reached the educational institutions around
the end of March and could not be properly communicated to the students. As the
various BISE boards still rely on the postal system for delivering their
decisions and other important messages to the schools, they are usually received
at the end of an academic session while they should be reaching there at the
So as always this time too we failed to communicate to our
students the changes made in the question papers which will definitely affect
their performance during the examination," said the director of studies at a
semi-government school in Peshawar.
"There should be no changes in the
question paper pattern or the contents of the course books unless the school and
college teachers are taken into confidence. As far as my observation goes, these
changes were made at the combined board chairmen meetings," maintains Ali Khan,
Yet another revised notification regarding changes in the
paper pattern for SSC and HSC says that papers carrying 50 marks would have a
section 'A' carrying 10 marks, which is to be attempted in 15 minutes, section
'B' would be awarded 24 marks and section 'C' 16 marks. Both sections 'B' and
'C' would require a duration of one hour and 40 minutes for answering the
The revised paper pattern for SSC carrying 65 marks, the
notification further says, would comprise a section 'A' , 'B' and 'C' with 12,
30 and 21 marks and with a time allocation of 15 minutes for section 'A' and two
hours and 15 minutes for section 'B' and 'C'. The revised paper pattern meant
for SSC and HSC, carrying 75 marks, states that section 'A', 'B' and 'C' would
get 15, 36 and 24 marks with a time duration of 20 minutes, two hours and 40
Secondary School Certificate and HSC papers
carrying 85 marks would be set like this: Section 'A', 'B' and 'C' would be
awarded 18, 40 and 27 marks and the students would again be given a time of 20
minutes, two hours and 40 minutes for completing the respective sections. SSC
and HSSC papers carrying 100 marks are said to be set as section 'A', 'B' and
'C' that would carry 20, 50 and 30 marks with the same time
Surprisingly enough at the end of all the notifications, the
BISE authorities claim that changes in the question papers have been made on the
pattern of O- and A-Level examination papers without ascertaining the fact that
BISE in the NWFP does not follow their syllabi or content.
authorities concerned made all these bizarre changes which are not compatible
with our books and system of testing. In addition, it will further encourage
cheating in examinations as there is always a so-called hard working candidate
in the examination hall who, thanks to rote learning, knows the answers to most
of the questions which can always be divulged to his fellow
"They should be making such drastic changes in our textbooks,
which are not sufficiently innovative in their content, and not in the question
papers," suggests Prof Riaz Azam a government college teacher.
there have been some changes made in the class nine, 10 and intermediate course
books after three decades. They still contain outdated information," opined Mr
Anwar Shad, a teacher's trainer.
Teachers also complain that the
recently-revised textbooks for SSC and HSC contain numerous blunders.
worry for my two daughters. How can they do well in the exams when they have not
been taught in school according to the new changes?" Said Arifa Khan, a
When chairman BISE, Peshawar, Prof Tariq was contacted regarding
the matter, he was of the view: "All these changes in the paper pattern was
communicated to the respective institutions well in time and I don't think it
will affect the students in anyway. On the contrary, it will prove beneficial in
terms of their getting better marks while minimising the chances of cheating as
according to this new pattern, the candidates will have to read their course
Still the question remains - will a change in the
paper pattern or course books, without keeping modern challenges in mind, have a
positive effect on the overall education system of our country?
By Sher Alam Shinwari (Dawn)
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